This March, Yelpers gathered at the Upcycle Parts Shop in Cleveland’s St. Clair Superior neighborhood for a night of inspiring creativity. Upcycle Parts Shop is a creative reuse center centered around provoking creativity and promoting community. They pride themselves on taking one person’s junk and giving it a new life. While they love to reduce and recycle, they value upcycling most. In their 4.5 years of business, they have deterred over 24 tons of perfectly usable items from cluttering landfills. Their eclectic, bright storefront is open twice a week to shop and is typically run by volunteers. Most items in the shop are donated and will cost somewhere within the 50c to $3.00 range, allowing for your creativity to flow for a very small price. They also host workshops, school groups and even birthday parties. During their weekly “Pull Up a Chair, St. Clair” workshop, residents from local zip codes 44103 and 44108 come together to make new friends, play with funky materials and take home a craft for free. Yelpers tried their hand at creative reuse at Yelp’s Upcycle Blossom Bash to craft bottle blossoms, a project that represents the imagination of creative reuse.
Upon arrival, Yelpers browsed the shop and mingled before settling into the private classroom upstairs. Director Marissa and Shop and Materials Manager Cass welcomed Yelpers to their space and gave a brief history of Upcycle Parts Shop. Their passion shone through as they spoke about their mission of promoting community and creativity while saving the planet. As the crafting kicked off, Yelpers used the tops and bottoms from plastic soda bottles, wire hangers, glass jars, paint chips and several other recycled materials to construct their own bouquet of flowers. Yelp Elite Dana W. found value in this project and wrote, “Our hosts for the evening, Marissa and Cass… educated us on how we could repurpose many other things in our lives. Did you know it takes over 500 years for a plastic bottle to decompose? I sure didn’t, but it does make me think twice about that bottled water.”
Marissa and Cass gave the group a few guidelines on creating the bottle blossoms, but also encouraged them to use their own inspiration and imagination to create a unique craft. Deb B. wrote about the easy-to-follow directions, stating, “Directions were given so we can go home and make more plastic posies but a lot was already done and ready to go. Simple. Easy. Fun. Creativity. Our hosts have clear instructions while pumping us up to create.” After an overview of how to cut the bottles and shape them into petals, Yelpers selected plastic bottle tops and bottoms to create three bottle blossoms. As the group found creative inspiration from their recycled materials, the excitement rose in the room. With no two blossoms alike, Yelpers cut petals, painted their hearts out and looped buttons onto their stems. They shaped and moved the plastic pieces to fit their vision.
Marissa and Cass demonstrated to Yelpers the best technique for painting the blossoms and how to create patterns like polka dots on the petals. Once the paint dried, Yelpers chose an upcycled wire hanger stem for each blossom. Next, they assembled the flower on the stem with the center of the flower on buttons or tokens with a stopper beneath it. Stoppers even included pieces from the recent St. Clair Superior farmers markets. Yelpers completed their three flowers and chose a glass vase, bottle or mason jar to arrange. Each bouquet looked vastly different and unique to its creator. The best part? These blooms never die. As Yelper Elizabeth F. wrote, “These blossoms will last and look great through all four seasons. We had a blast looking at others’ bottle blossoms and laughing at our own.” Overall, this workshop was informative, social and inspiring. Yelper Danielle B. summed up the event perfectly by writing, “It was amazing how simple it was to create something lively and vibrant from garbage.”
For more opportunities to try your hand at upcycling, check out some of Upcycle Parts Shop’s upcoming events. On April 27, they are hosting a Bling Hack Workshop where you can transform broken, underwhelming, and unloved jewelry into one-of-a-kind upcycled creations! Or, stop in during their regular store hours to meet the amazing people behind the shop and to find inspiration. Their storefront will be open an additional day every week starting this summer, offering more opportunities for your creative flag to fly!
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